Fifteen sports facilities across the country, including large stadiums and sports complexes, owned by Indian Railways, may be allowed for commercial use paving the way for the national transporter to make some money from them.
Under the current policy of monetisation of assets, the Railways ministry has asked the Rail Land Development Authority (RLDA) to assess the techno-economic feasibility for commercial development of these facilities.
On the list are sports complexes at production units in Modern Coach Factory, Raebareli; Rail Coach Factory, Kapurthala; Rail Wheel Factory, Yelahanka, Bengaluru; Banaras Locomotive Works (formerly DLW), Varanasi; and Integral Coach Factory, Chennai. All these production units have townships of their own and the sporting complexes are part of them.
The other facilities on the list belong to respective zonal railways – like the indoor stadium and cricket ground in Parel, Mumbai; a hockey stadium in Ranchi; and the sports complex at Mahalaxmi, Mumbai. The list also includes sports facilities in Gorakhpur, Patna, Lucknow, Secunderabad and Bhubaneswar.
“These are going to remain sporting facilities. We are assessing if they can be upgraded with more facilities for players and open them up for use by private parties also for commercial use,” RLDA vice-chairman VP Dudeja told The Indian Express.
- The Railways ministry officials have assessed that these sporting complexes remain underutilised for the major part of the year, leaving the scope for commercial utilisation.
Recently, RLDA carried out a similar feasibility study for Karnail Singh Stadium, adjacent to the New Delhi Railway Station. It has been decided that it makes commercial sense to include the redevelopment and upgradation of the stadium as part of the redevelopment of the station, for which the Request for Qualification exercise has concluded.
While the Railways ministry will take the final call, multiple models of commercialisation might emerge from the exercise, officials said.
“It is too early to say what kind of model will emerge for commercial development. We will appoint a consultant to carry out the studies and then submit a report first,” Dudeja said.
“There are complexes lacking upgraded facilities for players and there are stadiums where space and scope both seem available for more upgrade. Private parties may also like to use these facilities for sporting purposes when Railways is not using them. So we will see only after assessing them,” he added.
Traditionally, Indian Railways has been regarded as a sporting giant in multiple disciplines and a major incubator of future stalwarts. It has been a major patron of hockey, cricket and athletics. It has also employed sporting legends like MS Dhoni, PT Usha, Mohammed Shahid, Vijender Singh and Sushil Kumar. The Railway Sports Promotion Board is a member of all major sporting bodies including Board of Control for Cricket in India, All India Football Federation and Hockey India.